Israel intensifies Gaza City attacks, truce deal in ‘discussion’

Israeli forces on Monday intensified attacks and expanded an evacuation order for Gaza City, with a new wave of residents fleeing the territory’s main city amid intense fighting.

Civilians have now been ordered out of the majority of the Gaza Strip’s largest city, where thousands of families had taken shelter from fighting in other parts of the war-stricken territory.

Backed by fighter jet and drone attacks, columns of tanks took up positions around the city, while an army spokesman warned residents of the Sabra, Rimal, Tal Al-Hawa and Al-Daraj districts to flee to so-called “humanitarian zones”.

The civil defence agency in the territory said even before the additional warning that it had reports of “dozens” of dead and wounded from night-time fighting in different parts of the city.

Fleeing residents reported heavy fighting. Muhammad Bisan said he had been through “an indescribable night”.

“Planes and artillery are bombing and drones are firing from all directions, and we do not know where to run, right or left,” he told AFP.

Some said they had only just left other areas after being ordered out by the army.

“Where do we go,” said Abdullah Khammash, who told how he left his latest refuge at three in the morning.

Meanwhile, the head of Israel’s biggest opposition party said he would lend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu his support in parliament to keep him in office if members of the ruling coalition quit over a ceasefire deal.

Netanyahu has authorised his officials to resume negotiating a possible deal with Hamas to end the fighting in Gaza and release Israeli captured on October 7.

Some far-right partners in his coalition have said they will quit if the war ends before Israel has eradicated Hamas and freed the hostages, an outcome that could bring down Netanyahu’s government.

Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party, said at a meeting of his parliamentary faction: “There’s a hostages deal on the table. It is not true that Netanyahu has to choose between the hostages deal and the continuation of his tenure as prime minister.”

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